The Bradley volleyball team hosted the CEFCU Classic this past weekend, as part of a 10-match home stand for the Braves. The team finished just 1-2, bringing their overall record to 3-7. Despite their losing record, head coach Carol Price-Torok said she is more concerned with preparing her team for Missouri Valley Conference play rather than wins and losses.
In the opening match of the tournament, the Braves were narrowly edged out by the University of Illinois at Chicago in five sets. Although being paced by junior Erica Haslag, who collected 27 kills and 18 digs for her sixth consecutive double-double, the Flames still managed to hold off a pair of Bradley match points to pull out a 17-15 fifth-set victory.
According to senior Taylor Thiele, losing such a close game brought the team together for the rest of the tournament.
We were disappointed after losing that five-set match Friday morning, Thiele said. We all came together for our next couple of matches and put everything we had in it.
After falling to UIC, the Braves were back on the floor later Friday night to take on defending Ohio Valley Conference regular-season champion Murray State University. Thieles comments about the team leaving it all on the floor proved to be true. The Braves had a season-best .323 hitting percentage as Bradley sped by the Racers 25-16, 25-22, 25-16 for a three-set sweep.
In the matchup against Murray State, Haslag continued to shine. The star outside hitter collected 15 kills, while sophomore Kathryn Graf added nine of her own, and sophomore setter Hannah Angeli chipped in with 32 assists.
Price-Torok said she was happy with the team effort her squad displayed.
We had some really great performances from people who are continuing to play well for us, Price-Torok said. We also had some players who stepped into situations and helped us have some success this weekend.
In their final match of the tournament, the Braves once again squared off with UIC. The Braves could not avenge their earlier defeat and fell to the Flames for the second time in as many days. Bradley was dropped in four sets 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 25-15 as the Braves suffered another loss in the final match of the classic.
With just a 3-7 overall record, Price-Torok said she is not concerned and instead thinks her team will be ready for conference play.
Were not very focused on wins and losses right now, Price-Torok said. Our main concern is just preparing ourselves and continuing to be in game-type situations. Our kids are playing really hard and getting put in situations that they werent last year. Thats going to continue to help us as we get into conference play next week.
Price-Torok has her players buying in, and according to Thiele, this team has a drive unlike those in the past.
Were sick of losing honestly, Thiele said. Were following our coach and listening to whatever she has to say. Were just ready to get after it this year.
Bradley continues their home stand next weekend in the CEFCU Invitational Friday and Saturday at Renaissance Coliseum. The Braves open tournament play at 10 a.m. on Friday with a contest against South Dakota State University.